Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein
Seldom does it get better than this, the debut album from long-time bluegrass buddies Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein. 2:10 Train is a near perfect offering of acoustiblue music: two instruments and two voices- Klein’s lead and guitar and Gaudreau’s harmony and mandolin.
The album is a thoroughly contemporary portrait of two individuals performing the music they love in an unadorned manner. Not bluegrass by definition- such is impossible in a duo format without the 5-string banjo- 2:10 Train is reminiscent of the best Tim O’Brien recordings in that very clean instrumentation is blended with country- and mountain-influenced vocals in a way that incorporates elements common to folk and bluegrass.
The pair are acoustic veterans, and both are more than impressive musicians with Gaudreau one of the finest mandolinists working within the bluegrass genre.
Electing to record largely familiar numbers, Gaudreau and Klein take listeners on a comfortable visitation of their influences by performing songs with Celtic shades (“Black Jack Davey” and “Colleen Malone”), folk foundations (Tom Paxton’s “Last Thing on my Mind” and the venerable “Shady Grove”), and bluegrass or old-time roots (“Dixie Hoedown” and a simply brilliant interpretation of “Arkansas Traveler/Soldier’s Joy” that owes just a bit to Doc Watson).
For the album’s strongest cut, I lean toward a mournful rendering of Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played ‘Waltzing Matilda’”; in times like these, this anthem is especially poignant, and Klein’s voice- so smooth with James Taylor leanings- causes the listener to ache with knowledge of the song’s story.
2:10 Train was released a few months ago, and is highly recommended for all fans of acoustic roots and bluegrass music.